Handball European Championship – goal of the century sends France to the European Championship final

As of: January 26, 2024 7:47 p.m

In an extremely exciting semi-final of the European Handball Championship, a century goal by Elohim Prandi on Friday evening (January 26th, 2024) was the key scene: France defeated Sweden in extra time 34:30 (27:27, 17:11) and is in the final.

By Robin Tillenburg (Cologne)

Sweden got into the game better and quickly took a 3-1 lead thanks to some strong saves from goalkeeper Andreas Palicka. But that was it for the yellow and blue glory on this early Friday evening.

France’s Bellahcene unnerves Lagergren

The French star ensemble stepped up a gear and goalkeeper Samir Bellahcene in particular turned up the heat. Sweden’s backcourt player Albin Lagergren in particular is likely to dream of the Kiel keeper next night: Bellahcene defused three free throws from Lagergren – and his colleagues punished this negligence coldly despite two time penalties. Within just six minutes, 3-1 became 4-10 from Sweden’s perspective.

Sweden’s defense had no access at all. At 6:13 the Scandinavians threatened to lose the game completely. Things then got a little better again, at least if you kept up with the defending champions, but Jim Gottfridsson and Co. couldn’t really shorten the gap. Whenever it looked like Sweden could start a small series, Bellahcene was there or the French scored an “easy” goal. With 11:17 at halftime, Sweden had to hope for a small handball miracle.

Sweden with a furious second half

And this hope came true. Sweden came out of the break like the fire department and within just nine minutes the score was suddenly 18:18. France couldn’t cope at all with the speed that the Swedes generated from their own defense and with which they then hit the French defense. And not with Palicka either. The veteran in the Swedish box was completely fired up and when Felix Claar rose high on the other side in the 52nd minute and scored 23:22 to give Sweden the first lead since the opening phase, the encounter was over.

A thrilling final phase developed in which the Swedes were ahead and the French had to chase. Palicka brilliantly saved a seven-meter penalty from Descat and his front men threw themselves through the French defense with all their might: With one minute left, Gottfridsson made it 27:25 – the supposed decision.

Prandi with the sensational goal for extra time

But France shortened the score again and seconds before the end the referees whistled that Gottfridsson had made a step error. A decision that can hardly be resolved at this speed, even judging by the video images, it tended to be correct – in any case, it had serious consequences. The French quickly brought the ball forward and there was a free throw as the clock was running out. Elohim Prandi nailed it under the crossbar with all the power, force and flexibility of his body around the Swedish block. An amazing goal – and extra time. Particularly bitter: After watching the slow motion several times, one could come to the conclusion that Prandi’s foot came off the ground milliseconds too early and that the goal could therefore have been irregular.

This emotional setback visibly affected Sweden. The steam and momentum that had previously made up the attacking game and made the comeback possible had evaporated. The desperation throws got stuck in France’s defensive block several times, the French moved ahead to 30:28 and, despite a few more saves by Palicka, they didn’t let it stop them.